Baltimore’s orgy of cartography and geography


The ad says “Come visit Utopia in Baltimore.” With an orgy of maps like that planned, it should be a Utopia for somebody: Geographers, cartographers, historians, and anyone interested in travel.

Baltimore’s Walters Art Museum hosts an outstanding exhibit of world-changing maps through June 8, a Festival of Maps; the entire town appears to have gone ga-ga on the idea. Baltimore will be Map Central for a few weeks, at least.

The Baltimore Sun (one of the truly great newspapers in America) described some of the cartographic gems on display:

Among the treasures is a huge and beautiful map of the fossil-embedded geological strata that underlie England and Wales. That masterpiece, published in 1815 by a pioneering geologist named William Smith, offered evidence used to support Darwin’s theory of evolution and set the stage for creation-vs.-evolution debates that still rage.

Then there’s the map researched by a doctor named John Snow in the 1850s. It allowed him to trace the source of a cholera outbreak in London to a well used by residents of a single neighborhood.

And there will be charts prepared by geographer Marie Tharp of the Mid-Oceanic Ridge, a mountainous rise in the mid-Atlantic seabed, based on data gathered by American submarines during World War II and later used to provide evidence of how the Earth’s crust has evolved through geological time.

The Smith and Snow maps anchor key events in science, the origin of paleontology and one of the greatest examples of public health sleuthing. To have both of those maps in one exhibition is a great coup for the Walters, and for Baltimore.

The exhibit also features a map of Utopia drawn by Sir Thomas Moore. Other maps were drawn by Benjamin Franklin, J. R. R. Tolkein, and Leonardo da Vinci.

Here’s a video description of one of the more remarkable pieces on view, a map of London, on a glove:

from www.baltimore.org posted with vodpod

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Surely there is material here for the Strange Maps blog.  Here’s a still of the glove, from the collection of The National Archives, UK:

Glove map, from London's 1851 Exposition

Below the fold, a partial list of some of the other exhibits and events planned in and around Baltimore, which will convince you, I hope, that it is indeed an orgy worth getting a ticket to see.

Baltimore remains one of my favorite towns, despite the loss of my Johnny Unitas-led Colts, despite the Orioles’ recent mediocrity; it’s a place of great history, great neighborhoods, and good food. Crabcakes from several sites, dinner at Sabatino’s, maps in the museums. Utopia indeed.

Events in Baltimore

Baltimore Jazz Alliance

The Baltimore Jazz Alliance will expand its “Where IS Baltimore’s Jazz? Where WAS Baltimore’s Jazz?” map to include an historical perspective on where jazz could be heard in Baltimore and the locations from which many of Baltimore’s historic jazz greats emerged. A launch event will include a free concert combining “old” and “new” jazz talent.

Flag House and Star-Spangled Banner Museum

For Mapping Mary Pickersgill’s Baltimore, visitors will walk in the footsteps of Mary Pickersgill, maker of the Star-Spangled Banner, along the streets of Jonestown, one of Baltimore’s oldest neighborhoods. Examining early 19th-century maps and recent research on Mary’s 1813 neighborhood, participants on special guided tours will encounter the landmarks and residents of her historic world when Baltimore was a bustling boom town of maritime trade.

Jewish Museum of Maryland

In connection with the museum’s exhibition Voices of Lombard Street: A Century of Change in East Baltimore, the museum will hold a Family History and Archival Exploration Day. Participants will use color-coded maps and primary sources to find out about families that lived in the historic neighborhood over the past 100 years.

Lectures

The Universe According to the Hubble Space Telescope

Mario Livio, Senior Astrophysicist, Space Telescope Science Institute

Sunday, April 13, 2 p.m.
Price: Walters members Free, non-members $10

Graham Auditorium
In this talk, Dr. Mario Livio from the Space Telescope Science Institute will present a panoramic view of Hubble discoveries. More information and registration…

Maps: Finding Maryland’s Place in the World

Edward C. Papenfuse, Maryland State Archivist and Commissioner of Land Patents

Saturday, April 26, 2 p.m.
Price: Walters members Free, non-members $10

Graham Auditorium
Ed Papenfuse will give a multi-media presentation in which he will explore Maryland’s efforts to establish her boundaries. He will demonstrate with historical maps and photographs the transformation of the Estate of John Eager Howard into Mt. Vernon Square and the creation of the present Walters Art Museum. More information and registration…

Lunch and Learn Lecture

Book of the Fayum—An Ancient Egyptian Mythical Map

Thursday, May 1, 12:15–1:15 p.m., free
Graham Auditorium
Bring your lunch to the Walters Graham Auditorium and hear a lecture by Regine Schulz, Director of International Curatorial Relations and Curator of Ancient Art.

The View From Above: What Satellites Reveal About Human Influences on the Landscape

Ruth DeFries, Department of Geography, University of Maryland

Sunday, May 11, 2 p.m.
Price: Walters members Free, non-members $10

Graham Auditorium
Ruth DeFries will discuss how satellite imagery reveals transformations on the landscape as societies alter consumption of energy, food, and other resources. More information and registration…

Mapping Moments: An Artist’s World View

Ronit Eisenbach, Visiting Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, University of Maryland

Sunday, May 18, 2 p.m.
Price: Walters members Free, non-members $10

Graham Auditorium
Influenced by the situation of Detroit, Michigan, architect/artist Ronit Eisenbach will present four contemporary mapping projects that explore implications for our experience, understanding, and representations of the world that we inhabit. More information and registration…

Teaching Geography is Fundamental

Gilbert M. Grosvenor, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, National Geographic Society

Saturday, May 31, 2 p.m.
Price: Free

Graham Auditorium
In this lecture, sponsored by the Master of Liberal Arts Program at The Johns Hopkins University, Grosvenor will speak of the importance of knowing and understanding geography in today’s world. More information and registration…

Lunch and Learn Lecture

Maps: The World Re-encompassed

Thursday, June 5, 12:15–1:15 p.m., free
Graham Auditorium
Bring your lunch to the Walters Graham Auditorium and hear a lecture by William Noel, Curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books.

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